It's been well established by now that Vista is a bit of a resource hog, gobbling up close to a gigabyte of RAM all by its lonesome simply running the desktop. You would probably think then that Windows 7, the codename for the forthcoming successor to Vista, is going to be even worse? Well, in a presentation recorded at the University of Illinois, Eric Traut, one of the head Operating System designers at Microsoft, demonstrated an internal build of Windows 7, dubbed MinWin, which shaves the core operating system down to a tiny 25MB disc usage - that's compared to Vista, which needs around 14GB.
Obviously the level of operability is pretty low. There's no GUI, for example, just a rather nifty looking ASCII boot screen, but the potential is fantastic. Basically, MinWin is a stripped install of the Windows 7 Core upon which the rest of the operating system can be installed to modularly. In the video Traut showed a very basic HTTP server running, which may sound unimpressive but is an impressive feat if you consider the OS was consuming 40MB of RAM, a far cry from the 2GB minimum for Vista.
As the growing uptake of Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu shows, more consumers are open to the idea of having an initial install of a core operating system into which you then add the programs you want, as opposed to the (current) Windows model of installing and running everything whether you want or need it or not.
Could it be that Windows 7 could be the first OS to need fewer resources that its predecessor, while still offering more features and functionality? It's definitely a tempting proposition and I highly recommend the technical minded among you check out the full hour-long video, most of which is dedicated to talking about the future of virtualization in the Windows operating system. If you just want the bit about MinWin, though, it's 48 minutes in.